Charles Amirkhanian moderates a panel discussion with the composers featured in the second concert of OM 13. Swedish composer, Åke Parmerud, discusses his tape work “Dreaming in Darkness”, that utilizes spatial separation in an attempt to capture his ideas of how it might be for blind people to dream in sound. Cellist and composer, Michael Bach describes his collaboration with John Cage on “One13” which was composed for a cello using his unique curved BACH.bow. This sets off an ensuing discussion about the role of silence in music. Dan Becker then talks about his composition “Keeping Time” which was commissioned by Other Minds for this Festival, and is written specifically for the Adorno Ensemble which gives the piece its world premier. The panel discussion concludes with Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith describing how he first got the inspiration for his piece “Moths, Flames, and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees” after learning about how wildfires are essential to good forest health and the Sufi teaching that when something dies it doesn’t become extinct so much as it becomes part of the divine.
According to composer Dieter Schnebel, “’Dreaming in Darkness’ is an attempt to create surrealistic fragments of a blind person’s dreams. The piece gradually develops from a starting point which resembles the soundtrack of a film where ambiences and situations change through the opening and closing of doors. Gradually the ‘representative’ sounds are replaced by more abstract and musical material, displacing the character of realism towards an acoustic ‘in between’, where the boundary between the representative and the imagined is erased. The piece was commissioned by GRM and realized at the GRM studios in Paris.”
Michael Bach’s pieces “18-7-92” and “One13” both share a connection with John Cage and his “Ryoanji” series of compositions. “One13” was written in collaboration with the late composer, and shares a similar focus on eight distinct pitches that characterizes “Ryoanji”. According to Bach, “the piece consists therefore of eight parts, each of them is devoted to one single pitch and its reiterations. ‘Ryoanji’ and ‘One13’ have the same formal structure: eight sections and four parts. In a performance, one part is played live, while the three other parts, recorded by the same soloist beforehand, are played back over loudspeakers which are distributed in space. The fundamental difference though, is that whereas ‘Ryoanji’ features glissando lines within given intervals, ‘One13’ contains single pitches...The crucial link between ‘Ryoanji’ and ‘One13’ is my drawing ‘18-7-92 (Sketches for Ryoanji)’, which has the date of its creation as its title, because it captures and illustrates exactly, in statu nascendi, the transforming moment of the thematic orientation toward the unison prime.”
After the intermission, two works by Dieter Schnebel were heard. According to the composer “Quintessenz” is “an almost philosophical piece: with the help of the pianist, the four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) repeatedly tune to fifths, going out of tune or re-tuning them; but they also speak, from texts on the dual and multi-facted concept of quintessence by eminent authors". Concerning his “Poem für Köpfe” the composer had this to say. “A pointing finger, a nod, a first (or last) step, a jump, a turn of the head, a hand sign-these motions are all imbued with intention, the meaning inseparable from the action...Such motions, however, are strictly shapes; they only become rhythmic, dynamic figures, when performed with accents, or given constant, or varying speeds. From these methods, meanings can emerge: imitations, counterpoint, accompaniments, consonant or dissonant harmonies, with the vocal accompaniment providing colors and hues.”
“Moths, Flames, and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees” by Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, is as mentioned above, a meditation of extinction and the divine. It features the Adorno Ensemble performing with the pre-recorded Gamelan Quartet, and was originally composed in 1996.
According to composer Dan Becker, “’Keeping Time’ is in two movements. The first, marked ‘Carefully; gently’ is a meditation on simple pulsations and simple patterns. The second, marked ‘Like a Swiss watch, but fiercely’ is a more dynamic, energetic movement which explores similar patterns, but now presented in a fractured, frenetic and kaleidoscopic way. The piece was written for the stellar performers of the Adorno Ensemble and Commissioned by Other Minds.”
For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org